There is no other way to say it: “60 Minutes” blew it.
Steve Kroft’s interview with President Obama and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, broadcast Sunday night, was mushy, sentimental, and oh so easy-going. As for news… it elicited practically no information about Hillary Clinton’s record as Secretary of State.
Kroft jovially complained in his opening remarks that he had been given just 30 minutes by the White House, which requested the interview. This, Kroft said, left him no time to delve into deep foreign policy issues. And it didn’t—not with all the touchy-feely questions that had to be explored first.
The opening part of the segment was devoted to revealing the mutual admiration society formed by Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. Kroft tossed the former presidential rivals softball questions like: “Why did you want to do this interview together” and “There’s no political tea-leaves to be read here?” Then it moved on to probing four-year old history, such as “Why did you offer her [Clinton] the job,” and “Why take this job?” and “How would you characterize your relationship right now?” Obama: Clinton is a “strong friend.” Clinton “Very warm.”
The second half of the interview inched closer to U.S. foreign policy matters, though the questions were not discernibly tougher. President Obama was lobbed: “What do you consider your greatest achievements?” Secretary Clinton received: “Do you blame yourself for Benghazi.” The short answer was No. With Obama’s help, Clinton managed yet again to evade explaining what it means to “take responsibility” for the deaths of four people killed while their appeals for help lay buried somewhere in her email inbox.
Most interesting was Clinton’s admission concerning the Middle East uprisings and the U.S. desire to create “a bridge” that will lead the new governments toward freedom and democracy. “It isn’t always easy to perceive exactly what must be done in order to get that outcome,” she observed. In other words, the Administration has no clue.
That was it, as far as U.S. foreign policy for the past four years was concerned.
And yet, there would have been lots more to talk about:
- There was no discussion of Hillary Clinton’s personal imprint on U.S. foreign policy;
- No follow-up question as to exactly what “tough decisions” (as the President stated) Clinton and Obama have made together;
- No probing into the claim that the Obama Administration has conquered terrorism—despite the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Algeria and Mali;
- And, worst of all, no follow-up on personal responsibility on the Benghazi issue.
Instead, Kroft immediately changed the subject from Benghazi to the 2016 presidential campaign—leaving the impression that the ultimate purpose of the segment was not to reveal newsworthy information about U.S. foreign policy, but to present some kind of preliminary Obama endorsement for a Clinton presidential run.
The fawning interview rankled even Kirsten Powers, a Democrat and Fox News contributor. The following morning, she likened it to an interview conducted by “state media.” Spot on.